Samburu National Reserve

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Samburu National Reserve

The Samburu National Reserve may be found in the Samburu County of Kenya, which is located in the northern region of the country. It is situated on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River, which is an important source of water for the various species of wildlife that inhabit the area. The reserve covers an area of about 165 square kilometers (about 64 square miles) and is part of a larger ecosystem that includes neighboring reserves such as Buffalo Springs National Reserve and Shaba National Reserve.

The months of June through October are classified as Samburu’s dry season. During this time, there is the least amount of rain and the lowest level of humidity. As the grasses dry up and the leaves fall off the trees, the vegetation becomes thinner, which makes it easier to spot wildlife as they gather around water sources.

The driving distance between Samburu National Reserve and Nairobi is approximately 350 to 400 kilometers, but travelers can also opt for domestic flights, which significantly shorten travel time. The drive by road can take up to 7 hours depending on road conditions (especially during the rainy season).

Leopard in Samburu National Reserve
Leopard in Samburu National Reserve

Wildlife to spot in the Samburu National Reserve

The topography of Samburu National Reserve consists of a variety of ecosystems, including savannah grasslands, acacia woodlands, and riverine forests. Visitors to the reserve can expect to see iconic African animals, including elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, buffalo, and numerous species of antelope. The reserve is also renowned for its population of rare and endemic species such as the reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, and Somali ostrich.

The reticulated giraffe, also known as the Somali giraffe, is easily recognizable by its coat pattern of large, polygonal patches outlined by a network of white lines. This pattern is unique among giraffe subspecies. Like other giraffe species, reticulated giraffes are herbivores and primarily feed on leaves from acacia trees. They have a unique way of feeding, using their long necks to reach high branches.

Grevy’s zebra is the largest and most endangered species of zebra. It is distinguished by its narrower stripes, which are more closely spaced than those of other zebra species, and its large ears. Grevy’s zebras are more solitary compared to other zebra species, with males defending territories that overlap with those of several females. They have different social behaviors and mating systems compared to other zebras.

The Somali ostrich is a distinct subspecies of the ostrich native to the Horn of Africa. It is smaller and darker than the common ostrich, with grayish-blue skin on the neck and legs. The Somali ostrich is not currently assessed separately by the IUCN, but its population is thought to be declining due to habitat loss, hunting, and egg collection. However, it benefits from protection in some reserves and conservation areas.

Zebra in Samburu National Reserve
Zebra in Samburu National Reserve

Things to do in the Samburu National Reserve

Samburu National Reserve offers opportunities for game drives, guided nature walks, and cultural experiences with the local Samburu people, who are pastoralists known for their distinctive dress and traditional way of life. The Samburu people speak the Samburu language, which belongs to the Eastern Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. It shares some similarities with the Maa language spoken by the Maasai people.

Gerenuk in Samburu National Reserve
Gerenuk in Samburu National Reserve

The Samburu National Reserve’s remote location and relatively low visitor numbers compared to more popular parks in southern Kenya contribute to its reputation as a pristine wilderness destination.

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